With October only a few weeks away, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is quickly approaching.
Taking a proactive role in your breast health and wellness journey is an everyday event. Yet, October allows us the unique opportunity to focus on building a stronger community. One that aims to educate, support, and celebrate women of all ages and different walks of life.
In honor of October, we wanted to share a few important facts about breast cancer and debunk several common myths to empower our readers as they help spread awareness this month and the next!
Facts & Stats About Breast Cancer
Let’s start with what we know about this disease.
- Approximately 1 in 8 women living in the United States (13%) will develop breast cancer.
- Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in American women, following skin cancer.
- On average, every 2 minutes, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States.
- Experts report that 65% of breast cancer cases are diagnosed at a localized stage, meaning the cancer has not spread outside the breast area.
- There are over 3.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.
Top 5 Myths About Breast Cancer
Now that you know the facts, let’s discuss a few common myths about breast cancer, so we can clear up any confusion and start sharing the real facts with others.
Myth 1: Breast cancer only affects women with a family history of the disease.
Though genetics play an essential role in your health as you age, the truth is most women receive a breast cancer diagnosis due to genetic mutations that result from the normal aging process or certain lifestyle habits vs. heredity reasons.
Fact: 85% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease. Therefore, self-exams and regular screenings are recommended for all women.
Myth 2: Only women have breast cancer.
Both men and women have breast tissue, which means either sex can develop breast cancer. Additionally, the symptoms are the same and often include changes in the look and feel of the breast or nipple.
Fact: Although breast cancer is rarer in men, it does happen. According to Breastcancer.org, male breast cancer accounts for less than 1% of cases in the country.
Unfortunately, men often ignore or dismiss these symptoms. And as a result, if a male does develop breast cancer, he may receive the diagnosis at an advanced stage. Therefore, early detection and treatment is important for both men and women.
Myth 3: Women younger than 40 don’t need to worry about breast cancer.
It’s true that women over the age of 40 are at higher risk of developing breast cancer. Yet, 5% of breast cancer cases are diagnosed in younger women. Several factors can contribute to this percentage, including genetics or previous health conditions that may have required the use of radiation treatment.
Fact: Although 5% of cases may not seem high, the reality is that even younger women are prone to developing breast cancer. If breast cancer runs in your family, your doctor may recommend you begin scheduling an annual mammogram before age 40, and perhaps more often than once a year.
Myth 4: Staying active, eating well, and limiting alcohol consumption can prevent breast cancer.
Avoiding certain behaviors and managing your weight can certainly help reduce your risk of developing breast cancer, but it cannot eliminate it.
Fact: The two most significant risk factors for breast cancer include your sex (being a female) and your age. Though pursuing a healthy lifestyle is recommended to reduce your risk, the truth is breast cancer can affect women regardless.
Myth 5: A breast lump is the only breast abnormality to look for.
Developing a lump on your breast is not the only indicator of breast cancer. Instead, you may notice other changes happening to the outside of the breast, including:
- Changes in breast size or shape
These symptoms may require additional testing to rule out cancer. It’s recommended that you monitor nipple changes like a sore, rash, or discharge that starts suddenly.
Fact: Breast cancer may not cause you to develop a lump during its early stages. Therefore, any changes to your breast should be reported to your physician, who can help you decide what additional tests may be necessary.
Early Detection Saves Lives!
The fact remains that the number of breast cancer survivors is increasing! Early detection—through a combination of monthly breast self-exams (BSE) and annual mammograms saves lives and allows radiologists to identify abnormalities during their earliest stages.
The result? Cancer treatments are more effective, less invasive, and the survival rate is much higher.
Have You Had Your Regular Mammogram This Year?
If not, we invite you to schedule your annual screening at The Breast Center of Maple Grove. We make it easy to work around your busy schedule with convenient, same-day appointments and walk-ins. You’ll be greeted and cared for by our dedicated team of friendly technologists and experienced radiologists, who will walk you through your appointment and work to ensure you feel comfortable and supported.
Though the number of breast cancer survivors is growing, we want to see that number get higher and higher each year! The best way to do this is to schedule your annual mammography and remind your friends and loved ones to do the same!